Entering Game of Thrones season 8 episode 3, we knew that this was going to be one of the most epic showdowns we’ve had a chance to see. It was the Battle of Winterfell, it was in the middle of the night, and with the Night King ready to make his stand, we knew that bodies were going to fall.
The larger question here is simply this: Which bodies? Who would we end up losing by the end of all of this?
The challenge for the Game of Thrones production team pretty much throughout here was finding a way to balance the carnage and the violence on the field with the stillness and the fear underground. You can’t watch 80 minutes of pure shouting and various sound effects — even if there are dragons, and even if it’s firmly established that these dragons are awesome.
Before the dragons even made an impact, there were some signs that this battle was not going well, at all, for some of the living. Take, for example, Melisandre’s elaborate torch-lighting ceremony not mattering all that much. Or, the Dothraki getting more or less mauled. Eventually, a number of White Walkers made it to the walls and did their best to start climbing.
Shockingly, at about the halfway point in this battle, all of the show’s major and even semi-major characters were still alive … though we obviously knew that this wasn’t going to last. That was made all the more apparent as some of the undead made their way into Winterfell proper and we started to think that this was going to be a very depressing end to this story as a whole.
Arya gets awesome
Shortly after the White Walkers started to invade the actual city, that’s when Maisie Williams’ character officially came to play. She took out quite a number of the undead in a remarkably short period of time, but clearly, she wasn’t quite prepared for some sort of undead giant to come out to play.
Moments later we saw our first major casualty — Lyanna, who died a TOTAL BOSS taking out that giant. If she was going, she made sure someone went down with her. (Of course, we had this happening while at the same time The Hound apparently tried to give up.)
After we paid our respects to Lyanna, let’s go back now to Arya, who somehow managed to survive what she went through to get indoors. That didn’t stop the White Walkers from chasing her, which basically meant that she had to duck and weave a whole lotta carnage in order to find a way to be okay on the other side of it. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Beric, who was brought back so many times from the dead but could not be saved here. HE basically died to ensure that The Hound and Arya could live.
Dragon vs. Dragon
We knew that this would be epic and awesome and it was — it was also really our only sighting of the Night King for most of the episode. Or, at least it was until he was eventually knocked off.
The moment we saw this, our hope was rather simple: Was the Night King actually dead? Can The Night King be killed like that? Well, he was alive in that moment, so apparently at that point Daenerys decided to set him on fire. That seemed the right idea … but would that work either? When you’ve never fought the Night King, you don’t know how they can die. He walked away from this, at least until Jon Snow was ready to face him on the battlefield himself.
Well, these really are dead that will never die. The Night King was able to raise back up some of his army and from there, chaos erupted once more. Right after it looked like the heroes would win, they were set to then lose. Even Daenerys was left to resort to hand-to-hand combat, which is rare ever her stretch. Down below, Tyrion and Sansa found themselves in a position where they had to get involved to some degree — this was all-hands-on-deck, the-world-is-burning territory.
We knew eventually where the Night King was going, and that was to find Bran. He would always be drawn to the Three-Eyed Rave and that is what happened — the only line of defense between him and the Night King was Theon. Poor Theon didn’t stand a chance, and losing him here marked the biggest character death to date. That was perhaps marked moments later by Jorah, who died in order to keep Daenerys alive.
What does the Night King want with Bran?
Well, that’s where things got a tad curious. The Night King didn’t kill him right away — instead, it was ARYA FREAKING STARK who came at him and, in the midst of being chocked, was able to grab her dagger and pierce his stomach. The Night King fell and with him, so did the rest of the White Walkers.
Were there characters we wanted more of through tonight? Certainly. Think along the lines of Jaime and Brienne. Yet, none of that changes the power and intensity of this visual spectacle — it was too dark, but it also go better and stronger as the night went along.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all here is that despite the high stakes of this battle and the promise of death, so many survived. Losing Jorah and Theon was in fact rough, as was series MVP Lyanna. Melisandre is also gone, by the way, as she basically turned into dust on the other side of the battle. Her job was done. Her watch was ended.
For what we know, the most important dead bodies are Jorah, Melisandre, Beric, and Theon.
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What did you think about Game of Thrones season 8 episode 3, and some of the specific events that played out over the course of it? Share right now in the comments. (Photo: HBO.)